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Czech Republic: Five “off the beaten path” Bohemian gems

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The lovely town square at Horsovsky Tyn. Photos © hidden europe.
The lovely town square at Horsovsky Tyn. Photos © hidden europe.

Many tourists have a natural herding instinct. (Not you, of course, as you’re surely more discriminating than the average traveler!) However, the overwhelming majority of North Americans visiting the Czech Republic sadly still stay only in Prague.

Until this year, Eurail train passes did not even include the Czech Republic—although holders of Eurail passes valid in Germany or Austria could purchase a vastly overpriced add-on which allowed one return journey from the Czech border to Prague and back via the quickest route. It’s no surprise, therefore, that pass holders didn’t wander around the Czech Republic, but made a quick dash to the capital, stayed the usual two or three nights, and then headed straight back for the border.

One other Czech destination, Cesky Krumlov, developed a fad appeal for a spell, and backpackers drinking their way through Europe flocked to the small town in southern Bohemia only to find that the place also holds a magnetic pull for elderly Austrians who make day trips to Cesky Krumlov to indulge in coffee and cake.

Beyond Prague and Cesky Krumlov

Yet “Off the Beaten Path” Bohemia is a superbly good value, a part of Europe where the prices of accommodation, food, drinks and travel have scarcely risen over the last decade. Bohemia boasts some of the finest town squares in Europe and, for those who know their Hussites from their Habsburgs, some wonderful insights into the religious, political, and social history of central Europe.

5 Star Attractions in Bohemia

So, especially for EuroCheapo, here is the hidden europe quintet of perfect Bohemian hideaways. These are small towns, and are all very different places. Each surely warrants a visit in its own right, but taken as a fivesome, the quintet offer the very best of hidden Bohemia.

Western Bohemia: Horsovsky Tyn and Domazlice

Domazlice's town square.

Domazlice's town square.

Horsovsky Tyn and Domazlice are our two top choices for western Bohemia. The two towns are near the Bavarian border and just a dozen miles apart. They both boast superb town squares, utterly different from each other, but very beautiful. Both spots are about three hours by fast train from Prague.

Heading North: Litomerice

The city of Litomerice in northern Bohemia combines Hussite tradition with an almost Mediterranean, laid back approach to life. With another great central square, one of the largest in Europe, the city is by far the most accessible from Prague of our quintet of Bohemian stars, being just eighty minutes by train from the Czech capital.

Spa Diversions: Frantiskovy Lazne

Tucked away in the far northwest corner of both Bohemia and the Czech Republic are several small towns that deserve to be much better known. Some travellers have discovered the spa towns of Marianske Lazne (Marienbad) and Karlovy Vary (Karlsbad). But few foreigners venture to Frantiskovy Lazne, in our opinion the nicest of the trio of Czech spa towns close to the German border. It is four hours by direct train from Prague.

Following Goethe: Loket

Our fifth and last star town is Loket, a little hilltop town which the German poet Goethe is alleged to have said was his favorite spot in world. (This might be taken with a pinch of salt as Goethe was deeply infatuated with a local girl at the time, and nothing undermines impartiality of judgement quite like being in love.) It is four hours by train from Prague with one change along the way.

Eurail and the Czech Republic

We have already noted above that Eurail has extended its coverage to include the entire Czech Republic. But train fares are so remarkably cheap that purchasing a pass is hardly worthwhile. A one-way journey from Prague to the remotest corner of Bohemia by bus and train will never cost more than a few euros.

About the author

hiddeneurope

About the authors: Nicky and Susanne manage a Berlin-based editorial bureau that supplies text and images to media across Europe. Together they edit hidden europe magazine.

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2 Responses to “Czech Republic: Five “off the beaten path” Bohemian gems”

janhb1 says:

Znojmo in South Moravia is certainly worth noting.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Znojmo

Yes, “janhb1″. And so are Siena in Tuscany, Görlitz in Saxony and Bruges in Flanders. But Znojmo is not in Bohemia, which is why we didn’t judge it worth a mention in our piece on five Bohemian gems. Perhaps we’ll follow up sometime with a quintet of Moravian gems and then we’ll make sure that Znojmo gets it due. Thanks for the point.

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